By Fred Stabbert III
LAKE HUNTINGTON The new year came in cold as ice, just the way the Sullivan West boys’ basketball team started its home game against Tri-Valley on Wednesday night.
But the Bulldogs turned up the heat both offensively and defensively in the final three quarters to overcome the Bears en route to a 58-48 non-league win.
“We started out not playing very good defense,” Sullivan West Head Coach Bruce Nober said after his team fell behind 21-10 after the first stanza.
“We made a few adjustments and stepped it up in the third quarter,” Nober said.
Those adjustments limited Tri-Valley to just 8 points. In fact, Sullivan West’s defense held Tri-Valley to just 13 points in the second and third quarters combined, to turn an 11-point deficit into an 8-point lead, 42-34.
Tri-Valley Coach Brian Tingley gave his team an “A” for effort in the first quarter. “It was great,” he said of the hot shooting, including four 3-pointers which fueled the double-digit lead. “That’s what we have to rely on,” Tingley said of the outside shooting. Especially since the Bears were without inside force Alex Brown.
But Sullivan West methodically clamped down on Tri-Valley and started pounding the ball inside to its 6-5 center Patrick Pierce, who was able to maneuver easier without Brown’s presence. Pierce finished with 18 points and generally controlled the paint on both ends of the court.
“Patrick played well,” Nober said. “He got a few rebounds and put backs and definitely played much more aggressively on offense, going to the basket.”
The win came without the services of starting point guard John Masten, who was out sick.
“John plays a majority of the game and it was a big adjustment without him,” Nober said. “But Sawyer [Erlwein], E.J. [Franskevicz] and Brad [Hemmer] all stepped up to handle the ball for us.”
Tingley said he enjoyed the somewhat loud atmosphere of Wednesday’s game, which he credited to “the Dog Pound,” a group of Sullivan West students who stand, cheer and clap their way through the game.
“I don’t mind loud places, in fact Tri-Valley can get loud,” Tingley said. “I don’t mind the atmosphere.”
With the win, Sullivan West moved to 4-3 on the season with their last non-league game happening tonight at 7 p.m. at Lake Huntington against Chapel Field.
In addition to Pierce, Matt Cardona and E.J. Franskevicz made contributions for the Sullivan West offense. Cardona scored 13 points, while Franskevicz netted 12 points.
James Pugh scored 10 points to lead Tri-Valley, which is 3-3.